Gerardo Parra Rumors

Free Agent Stock Watch: Gerardo Parra

As MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth noted in his recent look at Alex Gordon, the Royals outfielder joins Jason Heyward as a top-of-the-market corner outfielder who derives significant value from defense while also delivering sturdy production at the plate. The other top two corner outfielders, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes, can generally be categorized in the opposite manner — big bats who are serviceable defenders — though Cespedes has shown new life with the glove of late. Heyward and Upton, in particular, are also appealing due to their youth.

All of those players will be seeking massive free agent contracts, of course, and many clubs will be unwilling and/or unable to pay them. But there’s another group of corner options behind them who may be had for more manageable commitments. Among them is a particularly interesting name: the just-traded Gerardo Parra, who went from the Brewers to the Orioles shortly before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Aug 9, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Gerardo Parra (18) crosses the plate after a solo home run in the sixth inning off of Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Cory Rasmus (not pictured) at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Like Heyward and Upton, Parra stands out in large part due to his age: he won’t turn 29 until May of next year, making him younger than the typical free agent. Of course, he’s also turned in a premium offensive season thus far, slashing .314/.355/.506 and showing signs that it may not just be the result of a .348 BABIP. For one thing, the speedy Parra has maintained a .326 career mark in that department. For another, he’s also carrying the highest line-drive percentage, home run per fly ball rate, and hard contact rate of his career. On the other hand, Parra has been and remains a far more effective hitter with the platoon advantage.

That mix of age and offense stands out relative to others who’ll be considered alongside Parra on the upcoming free agent market. Nori Aoki of the Giants is already 33 and likely won’t reach the market anyway. His $5.5MM club option looks appealing, and injuries have made it likely that he’ll fall shy of the 550 plate appearances needed for that to become a mutual option. Other left-handed bats — David DeJesus, David Murphy, Will Venable, and Alejandro De Aza come to mind — are older, carry mediocre batting lines, and/or have similar platoon issues to Parra.

There are a host of right-handed-hitting platoon options, too — Rajai Davis, Alex Rios, Chris Young — who are well into their thirties and have historically mediocre marks against right-handed pitching. Ben Zobrist is entering his age-35 season and really occupies a market unto himself given his positional flexibility.

There are several other players, however, who could be considered alongside Parra if they don’t get looks more as center field options. Austin Jackson is similar in age but has struggled enough offensively that he looks more like a second-division player or fourth outfielder at this point. Dexter Fowler and Colby Rasmus are both reasonably young options that could be signed as regular corner outfielders. Fowler is a year older and has the most consistent offensive track record. Rasmus, meanwhile, has nine months on Parra and has somewhat quietly had another above-average campaign at the plate, though he’s done so in less-than-full-time duty.

The switch-hitting Fowler continues to produce wherever he goes, though he performs better against lefties. He hasn’t hit as well as Parra has this year — his 112 OPS+ falls a good bit shy of Parra’s 132 mark — but his BABIP is well below its career norm, and he’s also been a more consistent performer than Parra over the years. Both Fowler and Parra are good bets to deliver double-digit stolen base totals in a given year.

Rasmus is a high-strikeout, low-OBP hitter but has nevertheless rated as a better-than-average offensive threat for the past three seasons. He also has had some seasons of outsized production, as Parra has done this year, and he rates quite well on the bases even though he doesn’t attempt many steals. It’s a different overall skill-set from Parra, who walks less than Rasmus but also strikes out half as often. Parra is a higher-average hitter with better on-base numbers, but until this year had never done as much in the power department. Choosing between these two, offensively, is something of a matter of preference, though it’s easy to imagine many teams preferring to take a gamble on Parra continuing to drive the ball.

The defensive side of the equation is where things get most interesting. Fowler and Rasmus have more experience in center than does Parra and could sign to play up the middle (Fowler, in particular, as he’s played center for all but one inning of his career). All three, however, have experience there and could be added by teams that prefer to have another center field-capable option on their rosters.

Interestingly, though, Parra has been as much of a surprise on defense this year as he has been at the plate — albeit in the opposite direction. Parra made his name, really, when he put up an outstanding defensive campaign with the Diamondbacks back in 2013. Moving into a full-time role, he drew plaudits from both UZR and Defensive Runs Saved as one of the game’s premium outfielders. But last season’s metrics were more of the average variety, and Parra has been decidedly in the red this year: he has a -23.2 UZR/150 rating and is valued at 10 runs below average by DRS.

By comparison, Fowler has generally rated out as a slightly to largely below average performer in center. Rasmus has also played mostly up the middle, with overall average results that have varied somewhat over time.

All told, there’s an argument to be made that Parra rates as the most appealing corner outfield option after the top four players noted at the outset — assuming, at least, that Fowler is locked up to fill a void in center. Notably, unlike Fowler, Parra can’t be saddled with a qualifying offer. If nothing else, he’s separated himself from the pack of other players (many of whom were noted above) who’ll garner consideration as non-premium targets.

Given his age, there’s a reasonable chance that Parra could command a four-year guarantee if there are teams that still value him as an above-average defender. While his recent surge in hitting and decline in defense could lead to some hesitation in terms of average annual value, Parra seems likely to be a useful player over that timeline, and it would be easy for a team to find a right-handed-hitting outfielder to pair with a player who’s put up a .777 OPS over his career against opposing righties.

Looking at recent corner outfield signings, there’s an interesting gulf between players who profiled as solid regulars and those who were seen more as platoon options. (Check this list of outfielders who landed guarantees of between $15MM and $75MM.) Players coming off of good years who were added as regular players have tended to score three- or four-year deals with AAVs in the $10MM to $15MM range. Some potentially useful comps include Melky Cabrera (three years, $42MM), Nick Markakis (four years, $44MM), Shane Victorino (three years, $39MM), and Angel Pagan (four years, $40MM) — each of whom was older than Parra when they signed their deals. (Markakis, in particular, stands out as a player whose glove was valued by scouts despite defensive metrics painting a more negative picture.)

While some others have had to settle for shorter deals — Aoki and Rasmus, last year, for example — there’s good reason to think that Parra can cash in. It’s too early to project specific numbers, especially with the market still yet to develop and more than a month of play remaining, but Parra and his representatives can aim high coming off a career year at the plate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Hope To Re-Sign Davis

The Orioles plan to re-sign at least some of their impending free agents, GM Dan Duquette told fans and reporters at an annual event including Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. Duquette highlighted one power hitter by name, saying “we do want to sign some of our key players for the future, and Chris Davis is one of them.” In addition to Davis, Baltimore currently has seven impending free agents including Matt Wieters, Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra, Darren O’Day, Steve Pearce, and Nolan Reimold. The club probably can’t sign them all, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

Specifically regarding Davis, the Orioles may have to compete in a thin market for first baseman. Our free agent tracker lists just eight potential free agents at the position. Of those, Edwin Encarnacion will be retained unless he sustains a major injury. Justin Morneau also has an affordable $9MM option although he has missed most of the 2015 season with injury. Mike Napoli and Pearce are probably the next biggest names at the position.

The lack of free agent first basemen could push Davis’ value north of $100MM, according to Mike Petriello of FanGraphs. The 29-year-old is in the midst of his second best season, slashing .257/.341/.541 with 32 home runs. However, Davis showed last year that there is some downside to his power happy approach. The club may have to weigh whether it makes better sense to commit to Davis or sign multiple other players.

Among the other free agents, Wieters, Chen, and O’Day will be the most difficult to replace. Wieters, 29, missed the early portion of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s battled a few nagging injuries since his return. He appeared to be breaking out in 2014 prior to sustaining the elbow injury. This season, his strikeout rate has spiked to 24.6 percent – up from a career average of 18.7 percent. It’s worth wondering if that number will regress with full health.

MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote about Chen recently in a free agent profile, comparing his potential earnings to Bronson Arroyo, Jason Vargas, and Ricky Nolasco. Including inflation, that would seem to peg him for a two to four year deal worth about $12MM to $14MM per season. The Orioles plan to make Chen a qualifying offer, per CBS’ Jon Heyman. That may affect the market for his services.


Zwelling, Keri Examine Blue Jays’ Active Deadline

In a pair of excellent columns, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet and Jonah Keri of Grantland offer behind-the-scenes looks at the chaotic week of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the trade deadline. Each spoke directly to Anthopoulos, and while Keri’s piece focuses on blockbuster deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, Zwelling’s looks at each day of Anthopoulos’ week leading up to the deadline (including those trades and other discussions) — painting a vivid picture of the life of a general manager during one of the most chaotic times of the year.

Some highlights from each piece, although I’d highly recommend reading each in its entirety…

  • Both Zwelling and Keri note that talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies date back to the offseason, but the initial concept of Jose Reyes and pitching prospects for Tulowitzki surfaced in late May. Anthopoulos, Zwelling writes, had been unwilling to part with Jeff Hoffman until the day that Tulowitzki was traded. When Hoffman’s name was put on the table, talks with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich accelerated quickly. Zwelling’s piece also provides a glimpse into the difficult task of Anthopoulos informing Reyes that he’d been traded.
  • Meanwhile, Anthopoulos told Keri that the decision to add Tulowitzki did have its detractors within the Toronto front office. “They brought up the length of his contract, the dollars on his contract, the players we’d have to give up,” said Anthopoulos. However, his take on the situation varied. “Players like that don’t become available,” said the Toronto GM. “They sign 10-year contracts and become the face of a franchise. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was weird, the process was long and stressful … but it was also a lot of fun.”
  • Zwelling writes that Anthopoulos was in negotiation for players such as Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra and Mike Leake as well, but an eventual phone call from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski caused him to shift his focus to Price. Dombrowski had told Anthopoulos a week before the trade deadline that he’d call him if he decided to move Price, and despite the fact that Anthopoulos saw constant rumors about Price’s availability, his respect for Dombrowski prevented him from calling to check in. “His guarantee that he’d call me was all I needed,” said Anthopoulos. “Dave’s a complete pro. No matter what was being said in the media, I was going to take his word for it. When and if the time presented itself, he was going to call.”
  • Anthopoulos tells Zwelling that while there was pressure to get a deal for Price and/or another starter done, he did have a fallback plan. Anthopoulos had a standing agreement in place for a yet-unnamed lesser pitcher than Price that he could’ve swung on July 31, but the move for Price halted that need.
  • Keri notes that Anthopoulos was on the phone with Mariners counterpart Jack Zduriencik discussing Mark Lowe when Dombrowski came calling with the info that he was ready to move Price. “I’m dying to jump off the phone, but I don’t want to do that to Jack,” said Anthopoulos. “I did really want Price, though. So I did hurry it along.”
  • Keri cites a Blue Jays source in reporting that the Blue Jays nearly had a trade completed for the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, but talks fell apart just as the Jays thought they had something worked out. The Jays also checked in with the Phillies on Cole Hamels over the winter, in Spring Training, before the All-Star break and with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, Keri reports, but were repeatedly told that Hamels wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to Toronto. Anthopoulos also aggressively pursued the Padres’ Tyson Ross, according to Keri’s source, though he gives no indication that anything was as close with Ross as it seemingly was with Carrasco.


Orioles Acquire Gerardo Parra

The Orioles have officially acquired Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra, as first reported by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Prospect Zach Davies will go to Milwaukee in return.

Jul 17, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Gerardo Parra (28) reacts after driving in a run with a double in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee drew fairly wide interest in Parra, though other teams with reported interest (such as the Angels) had already opted to move for other pieces. The club had been hoping to add two prospects in exchange for Parra, but ultimately decide to take one more highly regarded prospect from Baltimore, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets.

It’s been a career-year thus far for the 28-year-old, who owns a .328/.369/.517 slash over 351 plate appearances. He’s added nine home runs and nine steals as well. While Parra has graded surprisingly poorly in the outfield, he has a sterling reputation in that regard and has generally received above-average ratings from metrics.

If teams believed that level of production was sustainable, of course, Parra would have drawn much more interest. But his track record suggests he’s more of a league-average bat, and he has benefited quite a bit from a .372 BABIP.

Regardless, Parra looks like a quality rental piece for a contender — he’ll be a free agent after the season — and Baltimore will be the one to take the plunge. Though the O’s already have left-handed-hitting platoon outfielders in Travis Snider and David Lough, but both have been underwhelming.

Baltimore had to part with its eighth-rated prospect, per Baseball America’s mid-season ranking (subscription link), to get the deal done. He’s not an overpowering pitcher, but gets by on finesse and is near to the big leagues, per BA’s Josh Leventhal. Davies has posted excellent results this year at Triple-A, racking up 101 1/3 innings of 2.84 ERA pitching with 7.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.

Nathan Bishop of Lookout Landing suggested just this scenario could be in the works on Twitter yesterday. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the deal was close. Roch Kubatko reported this morning that it was in the works. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles “Closing In” On Gerardo Parra Deal

The Orioles are “closing in” on a deal for Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Prospect Zach Davies is expected to be the return to Milwaukee. Nathan Bishop of Lookout Landing suggested just this scenario could be in the works on Twitter yesterday.


Orioles Weighing Gerardo Parra, Ben Revere; Discussing Tommy Hunter With Cubs

The Orioles are looking at a pair of left-handed hitting outfielders in Gerardo Parra of the Brewers and Ben Revere of the Phillies, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. The club was talking about a deal involving minor league hurler Zach Davies (in addition to other pieces). Baltimore already has Travis Snider and David Lough as left-handed options in the corner outfield, but has long been said to be looking at new options.

Confirming and building on that report, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Baltimore is indeed pursuing talks on both Parra and Revere (Twitter links). Baltimore is also working on a deal with the Cubs involving reliever Tommy Hunter, per the report. The team would look to save some cash (around $1.5MM) while adding a minor leaguer from Chicago. The 29-year-old has been a steady contributor in the pen, though he failed in an early stint as the team’s closer last year.

The O’s would presumably put some of the savings achieved on Hunter, should that deal come to fruition, towards a new outfielder. Parra ($6.24MM annual salary) and Revere ($4.1MM) would both cost Baltimore a fairly tidy sum to field the rest of the way, in addition to whatever the acquisition cost would be from their respective clubs. Both are different players who represent different kinds of assets: Parra is a better defender with decent pop (particularly this year), and is a pure rental, while Revere is a singles hitter with outstanding speed who can be controlled for two more seasons.


Orioles, Brewers Discussing Gerardo Parra

The Orioles and Brewers are in trade discussions regarding outfielder Gerardo Parra, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt tweeted recently that Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin said his trade of Carlos Gomez wouldn’t preclude a trade of Parra, adding that the Orioles have interest. MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli tweets that the Orioles “like Parra a lot.” Lookout Landing’s Nathan Bishop, who earlier pegged the Brewers’ return for Gomez and Mike Fiers, tweets that right-hander Zach Davies could be in play.

The Orioles aren’t alone in their pursuit of Parra as the Angels and Mets have also been linked to him recently.  Parra, 28, has hit .326/.367/.517 with nine homers in 347 plate appearances this season.  His .884 OPS so far this year beats his previous watermark – a .784 OPS with the D’Backs in 2011 – by a healthy margin.  For his career, Parra owns a .279/.330/.407 batting line across seven big league seasons.

While he’s doing well at the plate, his usually solid defense has taken a step back this season.  Parra owns a -20.5 UZR/150, which casts him as a pretty bad outfielder defensively.  In 2014 Parra graded out as roughly average and in other seasons he has been strong in the field, per the advanced metrics.


Aftermath Of The Mets’ Near Acquisition Of Carlos Gomez

As most are aware by now, the Mets and Brewers had agreed to a trade that would’ve sent Carlos Gomez to New York in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, but medical concerns derailed the agreement. Reports last night surfaced to say that Gomez’s hip was the issue, though agent Scott Boras issued an adamant denial to FOX Sports saying that Gomez is healthy and has never seen a hip specialist.

Some additional context to the situation as well as the latest on the trade rumors pertaining to both teams in the wake of the failed deal…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Gomez had an MRI three to four weeks ago for an abductor issue — not a hip issue — and the reports from that test said he had no issues with his abductor or his hip (Twitter link).
  • Sherman also spoke to Brewers GM Doug Melvin (All Twitter links), who informed him that while the Mets have concerns over Gomez’s medical records, the Brewers do not. Said Melvin: “I don’t believe Carlos Gomez has a physical issue. Our training staff won best in baseball the last 2 years. We take a lot of pride in that. We don’t think anything is wrong with him besides any nick that happens to any ballplayer.”
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel hears that the ultimate issue in the trade may have been financial. A source tells Haudricourt that the initial scenario being discussed would have sent Juan Lagares to Milwaukee, but the Brewers were hesitant because of a publicly known elbow issue through which he is playing and because of Lagares’ $23MM extension, which kicks in next season. The next iteration of the trade became Wheeler and Flores for Gomez, but the Mets then asked that the Brewers include their 2016 Competitive Balance draft pick, which Milwaukee declined to do. Following that, the Mets asked for cash considerations to be included, but the Brewers were also unwilling to pick up any of the tab. It was at that point that the Mets backed out, citing Gomez’s hip, sources tell Haudricourt. (Sherman heard much of the same — Twitter links — though Haudricourt’s report provides much more context on the matter.)
  • The Mets will remain active on the trade market, it seems, and Marc Carig of Newsday hears that the team’s “clear preference” is to get someone who can play center field (Twitter link). Given Lagares’ injury, it makes sense to see the Mets targeting help in that area. I recently broke down the trade market for center fielders, for those wondering what options could be available to New York.
  • The Mets aren’t in on the Padres’ Justin Upton, partially due to his status as a half-season rental, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). The Mets would prefer to avoid rental players, he adds, though he does also note that the team has at least checked in with the Tigers on Yoenis Cespedes following the collapse of the Gomez deal.
  • It’s unclear where this scenario leaves the Mets in terms of trade direction, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The team likes Gerardo Parra but was also unable to agree on a price point in discussions with the Brewers. New York also likes Jay Bruce, but he doesn’t fit their desire for someone who can handle center field. Bruce has just 285 big league inning in center — all coming in 2008.

Outfield Market Notes: Maybin, Reddick, Mets, Angels, Parra, Gomez

Though the Braves have fielded plenty of interest in the revived Cameron Maybin, and have considered moving him, the team now feels it “would need to be blown away with an offer” to make a deal, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Contrary to an earlier report, Bowman adds, an Atlanta source vehemently denied the suggestion that Maybin had been dangled in an earlier effort to add Angel Pagan of the Giants. Maybin, 28, has been one of the game’s best turnaround stories, with his play dramatically altering perceptions of both his contract and the deal that brought him to Atlanta (which was already widely viewed as a Braves win).

Here’s more on the still-developing outfield market, which just saw one move with Shane Victorino heading to the Angels:

  • The Athletics seem unlikely to move outfielder Josh Reddick, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. In his comments after today’s Tyler Clippard trade, GM Billy Beane said that his club is not presently working on deals involving players who are under future control.
  • Despite a trio of acquisitions already completed, the Mets are still looking at a handful of outfield options, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York has, of course, just brought up top prospect Michael Conforto with Michael Cuddyer on the DL, but the team also designated John Mayberry Jr. and could use another quality option.
  • A source also tells Marc Carig of Newsday that the Mets are still shopping for outfield bats. Carig notes that the team could wait for asking prices to drop on deadline day.
  • The Angels are also still looking at left-handed hitting outfielders after adding Victorino, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that Jay Bruce (Reds), David Murphy (Indians), and Ben Revere (Phillies) are all still on their radar.
  • Gerardo Parra of the Brewers is also a player that the Angels are interested in, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Heyman breaks down his market, citing the Mets and Orioles as prime suitors (along with the Halos) for the left-handed hitter. There’s also a classic mystery team involved, per the report.
  • Heyman adds that some in the Brewers organization do not believe that Carlos Gomez will end up being dealt. Milwaukee is somewhat hesitant to move an affordable, in-prime player with control remaining.
  • Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Trade Market series for all the most likely outfield trade pieces. We’ve covered both center field candidates as well as corner options.

Latest On Mets’ Pursuit Of Offense

At least based on reports, the Mets appear to be one of the busier teams as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here’s the latest, mostly via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

  • The Mets tried for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but they believe Colorado isn’t interested in a trade.
  • The Mets have also looked into utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, but it appears likely that the Athletics will find better deals for both players, probably in two different trades.
  • New York discussed sending Zack Wheeler to the Reds in a deal for outfielder Jay Bruce, but talks went nowhere. Andy Martino and Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets had discussed potential Wheeler deals with multiple clubs.
  • The Mets and Brewers have had talks regarding Gerardo Parra, although it appears that there’s enough interest in Parra that the Brewers’ price has increased. That’s consistent with a tweet this afternoon from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, who wrote that the Brewers have had lots of interest in Parra and will have their choice of various offers.
  • The Mets are also interested in Yoenis Cespedes of the Tigers, but so far, they have nothing to show for it, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.